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This webpage reproduces a section of
The Roman History

Ammianus Marcellinus

published in Vol. II
of the Loeb Classical Library edition, 1940

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
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(Vol. II) Ammianus Marcellinus
Roman Antiquities

 p475  Book XXV

1 1 The Persians attack the Romans on their march, but are bravely repulsed.

1 Now this night, which was lighted by the gleam of no stars, we passed as is usual in difficult and doubtful circumstances, as fear prevented anyone from daring to sit down or to close his eyes in sleep. But no sooner had the first light of day appeared, than the glittering coats of mail, girt with bands of  p477 steel, and the gleaming cuirasses, seen from afar, showed that the king's forces were at hand. 2 Our soldiers, inflamed by this sight, since only a small stream separated them from the enemy, were in haste to attack them, but the emperor restrained them; however, a fierce fight took place not far from our very rampart between our outposts and those of the Persians, in which Machameus, general of one of our battalions, fell. His brother Maurus, later a general in Phoenicia, tried to protect him, and after cutting down the man who had killed his brother, he terrified all who came in his way, and although he was himself partly disabled by an arrow through his shoulder, by main strength he succeeded in bringing off Machameus, already pale with approaching death, from the fray.

3 And when, because of the almost unendurable heat and the repeated attacks, both sides were growing weary, finally the enemy's troops were utterly routed and fled in all directions. As we withdrew from the spot, the Saracens followed us for some distance but were forced to retreat through fear of our infantry; a little later they joined with the main body of the Persians and attacked with greater safety, hoping to carry off the Romans' baggage; but on seeing the emperor they returned to the cavalry held in reserve. 4 Leaving this region we came to an estate called Hucumbra, where contrary to our expectation we refreshed ourselves for two days, procuring everything that was useful and an abundance of grain; then we moved on after immediately burning everything except such things as time allowed us to carry off.

 p479  5 On the following day, as the army was advancing more quietly, the Persians unexpectedly attacked the last division, which on that day chanced to have the duty of bringing up the rear, and would have slain them with little trouble, had not our cavalry, who were near by, quickly noticed this, and, spreading widely over the open valleys, prevented so great a disaster, inflicting wounds on those who came up with them. 6 In this battle Adaces, a distinguished satrap, fell; he had once been sent as an envoy to the emperor Constantius and kindly received. The man who killed him brought his armour to Julianus and received the reward which he deserved. 7 On that same day the legions made complaint of the cavalry troop of the Tertiaci, on the ground that just as they themselves were forcing their way into the opposing lines of the enemy, the Tertiaci had gradually given way and so had damped the ardour of almost the entire army. 8 At this the emperor was roused to righteous indignation, had their standards taken from them and their lances broken, and forced all those who were charged with running away to march with the packs, baggage, and prisoners; but their leader, who alone had fought bravely, was given the command of another troop, whose tribune was found guilty of having shamefully left the field. 9 Also four other tribunes of the cavalry were dismissed for similar disgraceful conduct; for in view of the impending difficulties the emperor contented himself with this mild form of punishment.

10 We then advanced for seventy stadia, while every kind of supplies grew less, since the grass  p481 and grain had been burned and every man had to snatch from the very flames whatever produce and fodder he could carry. 11 Leaving this place as well, the whole army had come to a district called Maranga, when near daybreak a huge force of Persians appeared with Merena, general of their cavalry, two sons of the king, and many other magnates. 12 Moreover, all the companies were clad in iron, and all parts of their bodies were covered with thick plates, so fitted that the stiff joints conformed with those of their limbs; and the forms of human faces were so skilfully fitted to their heads, that, since their entire bodies were plated with metal, arrows that fell upon them could lodge only where they could see a little through tiny openings fitted to the circle of the eye, or where through the tips of their noses they were able to get a little breath. 13 Of these some, who were armed with pikes, stood so motionless that you would think them held fast by clamps of bronze. Hard by, the archers (for that nation has especially trusted in this art from the very cradle)1 were bending their flexible bows with such wide-stretched arms that the strings touched their right breasts, while the arrow-points were close to their left hands; and by a highly skilful stroke of the fingers the arrows flew hissing forth and brought with them deadly wounds. 14 Behind them the gleaming elephants, with their awful figures and savage, gaping mouths could scarcely be endured by the faint-hearted; and their trumpeting, their odour, and their strange aspect alarmed  p483 the horses still more. 15 Seated upon these, their drivers carried knives with handles bound to their right hands, remembering the disaster suffered at Nisibis; and if the strength of the driver proved no match for the excited brute, that he might not turn upon his own people (as happened then) and crush masses of them to the ground, he would with a mighty stroke cut through the vertebra which separates the head from the neck. For long ago Hasdrubal, brother of Hannibal, discovered that in that way brutes of this kind could quickly be killed.2 16 Although these sights caused no little fear, the emperor, guarded by troops of armed men and with his trustworthy generals, full of confidence, as the great and dangerous power of the enemy demanded, drew up his soldiers in the form of a crescent with curving wings to meet the enemy. 17 And in order that the onset of the bowmen might not throw our ranks into confusion, he advanced at a swift page, and so ruined the effectiveness of the arrows.3 Then the usual signal for battle was given, and the Roman infantry in close order with mighty effort drove the serried ranks of the enemy before them. 18 And in the heat of the combat that followed, the clash of shields, the shouts of the men, and the doleful sound of the whirring arrows continued without intermission. The plains were covered with blood and dead bodies, but the Persian losses were greater; for they often lacked endurance in battle and could with difficulty maintain a close contest man to man, since they were accustomed to fight bravely at long range,  p485 but if they perceived that their forces were giving way, as they retreated they would shoot their arrows back like a shower of rain and keep the enemy from a bold pursuit. So by the weight of great strength the Parthians were driven back, and when the signal for retreat was given in the usual manner, our soldiers, long wearied by the fiery course of the sun, returned to their tents, encouraged to dare greater deeds of valour in the future.

19 In this battle (as was said) the loss of the Persians was clearly the greater, while that of our men was very slight. But noteworthy among the various calamities of the combats was the death of Vetranio,4 a valiant fighter, who commanded the legion of the Zianni.

2 1 The army is hard pressed by scarcity of grain and fodder. Julianus is alarmed by omens.

1 After this three days were devoted to a truce, while each man gave attention to his own wound or his neighbour's, but since we were without supplies we were tormented by hunger that was already unendurable; and because grain and fodder had everywhere been burned, and both men and animals experienced extreme danger, a great part of the food which the pack-animals of the tribunes and generals carried was distributed even to the lowest soldiers, who were in dire want. 2 And the emperor, who had no dainties awaiting him, after the manner of princes, but a scant portion of porridge under the low poles of a humble tent — a meal which would have been scorned even by one who served as a common  p487 soldier5 — regardless of himself distributed through the tents of the poorer of his men whatever was demanded for his own needs. 3 Moreover, when he was forced for a time to indulge in an anxious and restless sleep, he threw it off in his usual manner, and, following the example of Julius Caesar, did some writing in his tent. Once when in the darkness of night he was intent upon the lofty thought of some philosopher, he saw somewhat dimly, as he admitted to his intimates, that form of the protecting deity of the state which he had seen in Gaul when he was rising to Augustan dignity,6 but now with veil over both head and horn of plenty, sorrowfully passing out through the curtains of his tent. 4 And although for a moment he remained sunk in stupefaction, yet rising above all fear, he commended his future fate to the decrees of heaven, and now fully awake, the night being now far advanced, he left his bed, which was spread on the ground, and prayed to the gods with rites designed to avert their displeasure. Then he thought he saw a blazing torch of fire, like a falling star, which furrowed part of the air and disappeared. And he was filled with fear lest the threatening star of Mars had thus visibly shown itself.7

5 That fiery brilliance was of the kind that we call διαΐσσων,8 which never falls anywhere or touches the earth; for anyone who believes that bodies can fall from heaven is rightly considered a layman,9 or a fool. But this sort of thing happens in many ways, and it will be enough to explain a few of them. 6 Some believe that sparks glowing from  p489 the ethereal force, are not strong enough to go very far and then are extinguished; or at least that beams of light are forced into thick clouds, and because of the heavy clash throw out sparks, or when some light has come in contact with a cloud. For this takes the form of a star, and falls downward, so long as it is sustained by the strength of the fire; but, exhausted by the greatness of the space which it traverses, it loses itself in the air, passing back into the substance whose friction gave it all that heat.10

7 Accordingly, before dawn the Etruscan soothsayers were hastily summoned, and asked what this unusual kind of star portended. Their reply was, that any undertaking at that time must be most carefully avoided, pointing out that in the Tarquitian books,11 under the rubric "On signs from heaven" it was written, that when a meteor was seen in the sky, battle ought not to be joined, or anything similar attempted. 8 When the emperor scorned this also, as well as many other signs, the soothsayers begged that at least he would put off his departure for some hours; but even this they could not gain, since the emperor was opposed to the whole science of divination,12 but since day had now dawned, camp was broken.

 p491  3 1 When the emperor rushed into battle rashly without his coat of mail, in order to drive back the Persians, who were pressing us on all sides, he was wounded by a spear and taken to his tent; there he addresses those who stood about him and after a draught of cold water dies.

1 When we marched on from this place, the Persians, since their frequent losses made them dread regular battles with the infantry, laid ambuscades, and secretly attended us, from the high hills on both sides watching our companies as they marched, so that the soldiers, suspicious of this, all day long neither raised a palisade nor fortified themselves with stakes. 2 And while the flanks were strongly protected and the army, as the nature of the ground made necessary, advanced in square formation, but with the battalions in open order, it was reported to the emperor, who even then unarmed had gone forward to reconnoitre, that the rear guard13 had suddenly been attacked from behind. 3 Excited by the misfortune, he forgot his coat-of‑mail,14 and merely caught up a shield in the confusion; but as he was hastening to bring aid to those in the rear, he was recalled by another danger — the news that the van, which he had just left, was just as badly off. 4 While he was hastening to restore order there without regard to his own peril, a Parthian band of mailed cavalry on another side attacked the centre companies, and quickly overflowed the left wing, which gave way, since our men could hardly endure the smell and trumpeting of the elephants, they were trying to end the battle with  p493 pikes and volleys of arrows. 5 But while the emperor rushed hither and thither amid the foremost ranks of the combatants, and as the Persians turned in flight, they hacked at their legs and backs, and those of the elephants. 6 Julianus, careless of his own safety, shouting and raising his hands tried to make it clear to his men that the enemy had fled in disorder, and, to rouse them to a still more furious pursuit, rushed boldly into the fight. His guards,15 who had scattered in their alarm, were crying to him from all sides to get clear of the mass of fugitives, as dangerous as the fall of a badly built roof, when suddenly — no one knows whence16 — a cavalryman's spear grazed the skin of his arm, pierced his ribs, and lodged in the lower lobe of his liver. 7 While he was trying to pluck this out with his right hand, he felt that the sinews of his fingers were cut through on both sides by the sharp steel. Then he fell from his horse, all present hastened to the spot, he was taken to camp and given medical treatment. 8 And soon, as the pain diminished somewhat, he ceased to fear, and fighting with great spirit against death, he called for his arms and his horse in order by his return to the fight to restore the confidence of his men, and troubling nothing about himself, to show that he was filled with great anxiety for the safety of the others; with the same vigour, though under different conditions, with which the famous leader Epaminondas, when mortally wounded at Mantinia and carried from the field, took particular care to ask for his shield.17 And  p495 when he saw it near him, he died of his terrible wound, happy; for he who gave up his life without fear dreaded the loss of his shield. 9 But since Julianus's strength was not equal to his will, and he was weakened by great loss of blood, he lay still, having lost all hope for his life because, on inquiry, he learned that the place where he had fallen was called Phrygia.18 For he had heard that it was fate's decree that he should die there. 10 But when the emperor had been taken to his tent, the soldiers, burning with wrath and grief, with incredible vigour rushed to avenge him, clashing their spears against their shields, resolved even to die if it should be the will of fate. And although the high clouds of dust blinded the eyes, and the burning heat weakened the activity of their limbs, yet as though discharged19 by the loss of their leader, without sparing themselves, they rushed upon the swords of the enemy. 11 On the other hand, the exulting Persians sent forth such a shower of arrows that they prevented their opponents from seeing the bowmen. 12º Before them slowly marched the elephants, which with their huge size of body and horrifying crests, struck terror into horses and men. Further off, the trampling of the combatants, the groans of the falling, the panting of the horses, and the ring of arms were heard, until finally both parties were weary of inflicting wounds and the darkness of night ended the battle. 13 On that day fifty Persian grandees and satraps fell, besides a great number of common soldiers, and among them the distinguished generals Merena20 and Nohodares21 were  p497 slain. The boastfulness of antiquity may view with amazement the twenty battles of Marcellus in various places;22 it may add Sicinius Dentatus,23 honoured with a multitude of military crowns; it may besides admire Sergius,24 who (they say) was wounded twenty-three times in different battles, and whose last descendant Catiline tarnished the glorious renown of these victories with an indelible stain. Yet the joy in our success was marred by sorrow.25 14 For while the fight went on everywhere after the withdrawal of the leader, the right wing of the army was exhausted, and Anatolius, at that time chief marshal of the court, was killed. Salutius, the prefect, was in extreme danger, but was saved by the help of his adjutant, and by a fortunate chance escaped death, while Phosphorius, a councillor who chanced to be at his side, was lost. Some of the court officials26 and soldiers, amid many dangers, took refuge in a neighbouring fortress, and were able to rejoin the army only after three days.

15 While all this was going on, Julianus, lying in his tent, addressed his disconsolate and sorrowful companions as follows: "Most opportunely, friends, has the time now come for me to leave this life, which I rejoice to return to Nature, at her demand, like an honourable debtor, not (as some might think) bowed down with sorrow, but having learned from the general conviction of philosophers how much happier the soul is than the body, and bearing in mind that whenever a better condition is severed from a worse,  p499 one should rejoice rather than grieve. Thinking also of this, that the gods of heaven themselves have given death to some men of the greatest virtue27 as their supreme reward. 16 But this gift, I know well, was given to me, that I might not yield to great difficulties, nor ever bow down and humiliate myself; for experience teaches me that all sorrows overcome only weaklings, but yield to the steadfast. 17 I do not regret what I have done, nor does the recollection of any grave misdeed torment me; either when I was consigned to the shade and obscurity, or after I attained the principate, I have preserved my soul, as taking its origin from relationship with the gods, stainless (in my opinion), conducting civil affairs with moderation, and making and repelling wars only after mature deliberation. And yet success and well-laid plans do not always go hand in hand, since higher powers claim for themselves the outcome of all enterprises. 18 Considering, then, that the aim of a just rule is the welfare and security of its subjects, I was always, as you know, more inclined to peaceful measures, excluding from my conduct all license, the corrupter of deeds and of character. On the other hand, I depart rejoicing that, so often as the state, like an imperious parent, has exposed me deliberately to dangers, I have stood four-square, accustomed as I am to tread under foot the storms of fate. 19 And I shall not be ashamed to admit, that I learned long ago through the words of trustworthy prophecy, that I should perish by the sword. And therefore I thank the eternal power that  p501 I meet my end, not from secret plots, nor from the pain of a tedious illness, nor by the fate of a criminal, but that in the mid-career of glorious renown I have been found worthy of so noble a departure from this world. For he is justly regarded as equally weak and cowardly who desires to die when he ought not, or he who seeks to avoid death when his time has come. 20 So much it will be enough to say, since my vital strength is failing. But as to the choice of an emperor, I am prudently silent, lest I pass over some worthy person through ignorance, or if I name some of whom I consider suitable, and perhaps another is preferred, I may expose him to extreme danger. But as an honourable foster-child of our country, I wish that a good ruler may be found to succeed me."

21 After having spoken these words in a calm tone, wishing to distribute his private property to his closer friends, as if with the last stroke of his pen, he called for Anatolius, his chief court-marshal. And when the prefect Salutius replied "He has been happy," he understood that he had been slain, and he who recently with such courage had been indifferent to his own fate, grieved deeply over that of a friend. 22 Meanwhile, all who were present wept, whereupon even then maintaining his authority, he chided them, saying that it was unworthy to mourn for a prince who was called to union with heaven and the stars. 23 As this made them all silent, he himself engaged with the philosophers Maximus28 and Priscus in an intricate discussion about the nobility of the soul.29 Suddenly the wound in his pierced  p503 side opened wide, the pressure of the blood checked his breath, and after a draught of cold water for which he had asked, in the gloom of midnight he passed quietly away in the thirty-second year of his age. Born in Constantinople, he was left alone in childhood by the death both of his father Constantius (who, after the decease of his brother Constantinus, met his end with many others in the strife for the succession to the throne)30 and of his mother Basilina, who came from an old and noble family.31

4 1 Julianus's merits and defects, his bodily form and stature.

1 He was a man truly to be numbered with the heroic spirits, distinguished for his illustrious deeds and his inborn majesty. For since there are, in the opinion of the philosophers, four principal virtues,32 moderation, wisdom, justice, and courage and corresponding to these also some external characteristics, such as knowledge of the art of war, authority, good fortune, and liberality, these as a whole and separately Julianus cultivated with constant zeal.

2 In the first place, he was so conspicuous for inviolate chastity that after the loss of his wife33 it is well known that he never gave a thought to love: bearing in mind what we read in Plato,34 that Sophocles, the tragic poet, when we was asked, at a great age, whether he still had congress with women, said no, adding that he was glad that he had escaped from this passion as from some mad and cruel  p505 master. 3 Also, to give greater strength to this principle, Julianus often repeated the saying of the lyric poet Bacchylides, whom he delighted to read, who declares that as a skilful painter gives a face beauty, just so chastity gives charm to a life of high aims. This blemish in the mature strength of manhood he avoided with such care, that even his most confidential attendants never (as often happens) accused him even of a suspicion of any lustfulness.

4 Moreover, this kind of self restraint was made still greater through his moderation in eating and sleeping, which he strictly observed at home and abroad. For in time of peace the frugality of his table excited the wonder of those who could judge aright, as if he intended soon to resume the philosopher's cloak. And on his various campaigns, he was often seen partaking of common and scanty food, sometimes standing up like a common soldier. 5 As soon as he had refreshed his body, which was inured to toil, by a brief rest in sleep, he awoke and in person attended to the changing of the guards and pickets, and after these serious duties took refuge in the pursuit of learning. 6 And if the nightly lamps amid which he worked could have given oral testimony, they would certainly have borne witness that there was a great difference between him and some other princes, since they knew that he did not indulge in pleasure, even to the extent which nature demanded.

7 Then there were very many proofs of his wisdom, of which it will suffice to mention a few. He was thoroughly skilled in the arts of war and peace, greatly inclined to courtesy, and claiming for  p507 himself only so much deference as he thought preserved him from contempt and insolence. He was older in virtue than in years. He gave great attention to the administration of justice, and was sometimes an unbending judge; also a very strict censor in regulating conduct, with a calm contempt for riches, scorning everything mortal; in short, he often used to declare that it was shameful for a wise man, since he possessed a soul, to seek honour from bodily gifts.

8 By what high qualities he was distinguished in his administration of justice is clear from many indications: first, because taking into account circumstances and persons, he was awe-inspiring but free from cruelty. Secondly, because he checked vice by making examples of a few, and also because he more frequently threatened men with the sword than actually used it. 9 Finally, to be brief, it is well known that he was so merciful towards some open enemies who plotted against him, that he corrected the severity of their punishment by his inborn mildness.

10 His fortitude is shown by the great number of his battles and by his conduct of wars, as well as by his endurance of excessive cold and heat. And although bodily duty is demanded from a soldier, but mental duty from a general, yet he once boldly met a savage enemy in battle and struck him down,35 and when our men gave ground, he several times alone checked their flight36 by opposing his breast to them. When destroying the kingdoms of the raging Germans and on the burning sands of Persia he added to the confidence of his  p509 soldiers by fighting among the foremost. 11 There are many notable evidences of his knowledge of military affairs: the sieges of cities and fortresses, undertaken amid the extremest dangers, the varied forms in which he arranged the lines of battle, the choice of safe and healthful places for camps, the wisely planned posting of frontier guards and field pickets. 12 His authority was so well established that, being feared as well as deeply loved as one who shared in the dangers and hardships of his men, he both in the heat of fierce battles condemned cowards to punishment, and, while he was still only a Caesar,37 he controlled his men even without pay, when they were fighting with savage tribes, as I have long ago said. And when they were armed and mutinous, he did not fear to address them and threaten to return to private life, if they continued to be insubordinate. 13 Finally, one thing it will be enough to know in token of many, namely, that merely by a speech he induced his Gallic troops, accustomed to snow and to the Rhine, to traverse long stretches of country and follow him through torrid Assyria to the very frontiers of the Medes.

14 His success was so conspicuous that for a longtime he seemed to ride on the shoulders of Fortune herself, his faithful guide as he in victorious career surmounted enormous difficulties. And after he left the western region, so long as he was on earth all nations preserved perfect quiet, as if a kind of earthly wand of Mercury were pacifying them.

15 There are many undoubted tokens of his  p511 generosity. Among these are his very light imposition of tribute, his remission of the crown-money,38 the cancellation of many debts made great by long standing,39 the impartial treatment of disputes between the privy purse and private persons, the restoration of the revenues from taxes to various states along with their lands, except such as previous high officials40 had alienated by a kind of legal sale; furthermore, that he was never eager to increase his wealth, which he thought was better secured in the hands of its possessors; and he often remarked that Alexander the Great, when asked where his treasures were, gave the kindly answer, "in the hands of my friends."

16 Having set down his good qualities, so many as I could know, let me now come to an account of his faults, although they can be summed up briefly. In disposition he was somewhat inconsistent, but he controlled this by the excellent habit of submitting, when he went wrong, to correction. 17 He was somewhat talkative, and very seldom silent; also too much given to the consideration of omens and portents, so that in this respect he seemed to equal the emperor Hadrian. Superstitious rather than truly religious, he sacrificed innumerable victims without regard to cost, so that one might believe that if he had returned from the Parthians, there would soon have been a scarcity of cattle; like the Caesar Marcus,41 of whom (as we learn) the following Greek distich was written:

We the white steers do Marcus Caesar greet.

Win once again, and death we all must meet.

 p513  18 He delighted in the applause of the mob, and desired beyond measure praise for the slightest matters, and the desire for popularity often led him to converse with unworthy men.

19 But yet, in spite of this, his own saying might be regarded as sound, namely, that the ancient goddess of Justice, whom Aratus42 raised to heaven because of her impatience with men's sins, returned to earth again during his rule, were it not that sometimes he acted arbitrarily, and now and then seemed unlike himself. 20 For the laws which he enacted were not oppressive, but stated exactly what was to be done or left undone, with a few exceptions. For example, it was a harsh law that forbade Christian43 rhetoricians and grammarians to teach, unless they consented to worship the pagan deities. 21 And also it was almost unbearable that in the municipal towns he unjustly allowed persons to be made members of the councils, who, either as foreigners, or because of personal privileges or birth, were wholly exempt from such assemblies.44

22 The figure and proportion of his body were as follows. He was of medium stature. His hair lay smooth as if it had been combed, his beard was shaggy and trimmed so as to end in a point, his eyes were fine and full of fire, an indication of the acuteness of his mind. His eyebrows were handsome, his nose very straight, his mouth somewhat large with a pendulous lower lip. His neck was thick and somewhat bent, his shoulders large and broad. Moreover, right from top to toe he was a man of straight well-proportioned  p515 bodily frame and as a result was strong and a good runner.

23 And since his detractors alleged that he had stirred up the storms of war anew, to the ruin of his country, they should know clearly through the teachings of truth, that it was not Julianus, but Constantine, who kindled the Parthian fires, when he confided too greedily in the lies of Metrodorus,45 as I explained fully some time ago.46 24 This it was that caused the annihilation of our armies, the capture so often of whole companies of soldiers, the destruction of cities, the seizure or overthrow of fortresses, the exhaustion of our provinces by heavy expenses, and the threats of the Persians which were soon brought into effect, as they claimed everything as far as Bithynia and the shores of the Propontis. 25 But in Gaul, where barbarian arrogance grew apace, as the Germans swarmed through our territories, and the Alps were on the point of being forced with the resulting devastation of Italy, after the inhabitants had suffered many unspeakable woes, nothing was left save tears and fears, since the recollection of the past was bitter and the anticipation of what threatened was sadder still: all this that young man, sent to the western region, a Caesar in name  p517 only,47 wholly corrected with almost incredible speed, driving kings before him like common slaves. 26 And in order to restore the Orient with similar energy, he attacked the Persians, and he would have won from them a triumph and a surname, if the decrees of heaven had been in accord with his plans and his splendid deeds. 27 And although we know that some men thoughtlessly laugh at experience to such an extent that they sometimes renew wars when defeated, and go to sea again after shipwreck,48 and return to meet difficulties to which they have often yielded, there are some who blame a prince who had been everywhere victorious for trying to equal his past exploits.

5 1 Jovian, commander of the household troops, in tumultuous haste is chosen emperor.

1 After this there was no time for laments or tears. For after caring for Julianus's body as well as the means at hand and the circumstances allowed, in order that he might be laid to rest in the place which he had previously chosen,49 at dawn of the following day, which was the twenty-seventh of June, with the enemy swarming about us on every side, the generals of the army assembled, and having called in the commanders of the legions and of the squadrons of cavalry, they consulted about choosing an emperor. 2 They were divided into turbulent  p519 factions, for Arintheus and Victor, with the other survivors of the palace officials of Constantius, looked around for a suitable man from their party; on the other hand, Nevitta and Dagalaifus, as well as the chiefs of the Gauls, sought such a man among their fellow-soldiers. 3 After some discussion, all by general agreement united on Salutius, and when he pleaded illness and old age, one of the soldiers50 of higher rank, perceiving Salutius' determined opposition, said: "What would you do if the emperor (as often happens) had in his absence committed to you the conduct of this war? Would you not put aside everything else and save the soldiers from the threatening dangers? Do that now, and if we are permitted to see Mesopotamia, the united votes of both armies51 will decide upon a lawful emperor."

4 During this delay, which was slight considering the importance of the matter, before the various opinions had been weighed, a few hot-headed soldiers (as often happens in an extreme crisis) chose an emperor in the person of Jovianus, commander52 of the household troops, who had claims for some slight consideration because of the services of his father. For he was the son of Varronianus, a well-known count,53 who not long since, after ending his military career, had retired to a quieter life. 5 Now Jovian, as soon as he had been clothed in the imperial robes and suddenly brought out from his tent, already hastening through the ranks of the soldiers, who were getting ready to march. 6 And since the army extended for four miles, those in the  p521 van, on hearing some me shouting "Jovianus Augustus," repeated the same sounds much more loudly; for struck by the near relationship of the name, since it differed in only one letter,54 they thought that Julianus had recovered and was being brought out amid the usual great acclaim. But when Jovianus a taller and bent manº was seen advancing, they suspected what had happened, and all burst into tears and lamentation. 7 But if any onlooker of strict justice with undue haste blames such a step taken in a moment of extreme danger, he will, with even more justice, reproach sailors, if after the loss of a skilled pilot, amid the raging winds and seas, they committed the guidance of the helm of their ship to any companion in their peril, whoever he might be. 8 When this had been done as described, as if by the blind decree of fortune, the standard-bearer of the Joviani,55 formerly commanded by Varronianus, who was at odds with the new emperor even when he was still a private citizen, just as he had been a persistent critic of his father, fearing danger from an enemy who had now risen above the ordinary rank, deserted to the Persians. And as soon as he had the opportunity of telling what he knew to Sapor, who was already drawing near, he informed the king that the man whom he feared was dead, and that an excited throng of camp-followers had chosen a mere shadow of imperial power in the person of Jovian, up to that time one of the bodyguard, and a slothful, weak man. 9º On hearing this news, for which he had always longed with anxious prayers, the king, elated by the unexpected good fortune, added a corps of the royal cavalry to  p523 the army opposed to us and hastened on, ordering an attack upon the rear of our army.

6 1 The Romans, hastening to return from Persia, and already on their way, are assailed in frequent battles by the Persians and Saracens, but repel them with great loss.

1 While these arrangements were being made on both sides, in Jovian's behalf56 victims were killed, when the entrails were inspected it was announced that he would ruin everything, if he remained within the rampart of the camp (as he thought of doing), but would be victor if he marched out. 2 But when we accordingly were just beginning to leave, the Persians attacked us, with the elephants in front. By the unapproachable and frightful stench of these brutes horses and men were at first thrown into confusion, but the Joviani and Herculiani,57 after killing a few of the beasts, bravely resisted the mail-clad horsemen. 3 Then the legions of the Jovii and the Victores came to the aid of their struggling companions and slew two elephants, along with a considerable number of the enemy. On our left wing some valiant warriors fell, Julianus, Macrobius and Maximus, tribunes of the legions which then held first place in our army. 4 Having buried these men as well as the pressing conditions allowed, when towards nightfall we were coming at rapid pace to a fortress called Sumere, we recognized the corpse of Anatolius58 lying in the road, and it was  p525 hastily committed to the earth. Here, too, we recovered sixty soldiers with some court officials, who (as I have related above)59 had taken refuge in a deserted stronghold.

5 On the next day we pitched our camp in the best place we could find, a broad plain in a valley; it was surrounded as if by a natural wall, and had only one exit, which was a wide one, and all about it we set stakes with sharp ends like the points of swords. 6 On seeing this, the enemy from the wooded heights assailed us with weapons of all kinds and with insulting language, as traitors and murderers of an excellent prince. For they also had heard from the mouths of deserters, in consequence of an unfounded rumour, that Julianus had been killed by a Roman weapon.60 7 Finally, some troops of horsemen meanwhile ventured to break through the praetorian gate and to come near the very tent of the emperor, but with the loss of many killed and wounded they were vigorously driven back.

8 Then we set out on the following night and took possession of the place called Charcha;61 here we were safe because there were mounds along the banks, constructed by men's hands to prevent the Saracens from continually making raids on Assyria, and no one harassed our lines, as had been done before this. 9 And from here, having completed a march of /thirty stadia, on the first of July we reached a city called Dura.62 Our horses were tired, and their riders, who marched on foot and fell to the rear,  p527 were surrounded by a throng of Saracens, and would at once have perished, had not some squadrons of our light-armed cavalry brought help to them in their distress. 10 We found these Saracens hostile for the reason that they had been prevented by Julian's order from receiving pay and numerous gifts,63 as in times past, and when they complained to him, had received the simple reply that a warlike and watchful emperor had steel and not gold. 11 In this place the persistence of the Persians delayed us for four days. For when we began to march, they followed us, and by frequent onsets forced us to turn back; if we halted to do battle with them, they little by little retired and harassed us by continual delays. But now (since to those who are in fear of the worst even false reports are commonly welcome) the rumour was circulated that the frontiers of our possessions were not far distant; whereupon the army, with mutinous bluster, demanded that they be allowed to cross the Tigris. 12 The emperor, as well as the generals, opposed them, and pointing to the river, which was in flood, since the dog-star had already risen, begged them not to trust themselves to the dangerous currents, declaring that very many could not swim, and adding that the scattered bands of the enemy had beset the banks of the swollen stream in various places. 13 But when these warnings, though several times repeated, had no effect, and the loud shouts of the excited soldiers threatened violence, Jovian reluctantly consented that the Gauls, mingled with the northern Germans, should enter the river first of all, to the end that if these were swept away by the force of the stream,  p529 the obstinacy of the rest might be broken down; or if they accomplished their purpose without harm, the rest might try to cross with greater confidence. 14 For this attempt the most skilful men were chosen, who from early childhood were taught in their native lands to cross the greatest of all river, and as soon as the quiet of night gave an opportunity for concealment, as if starting all together in a race,64 they gained the opposite bank more quickly than could have been expected, and after trampling under foot and killing a great number of the Persians, who had been posted to guard the places, but from a feeling of security were buried in quiet sleep, they raised their hands and waved their mantles, to show that their bold attempt had succeeded. 15 When this was seen from afar, the soldiers, now eager to cross, were delayed only by the promise of the pontoon builders to make bridges of bladders from the hides of slain animals.65

7 1 Jovian Augustus, led by the hunger and want of his men, makes a peace with Sapor which was necessary, but shameful, giving up five provinces, as well as Nisibis and Singara.

1 While these vain attempts were being made, King Sapor, both when far away and when he had come near, learned from the true accounts of scouts and deserters of the brave deeds of our men and the shameful defeats of his army, accompanied by a  p531 greater loss of elephants than he had ever known in his reign; also that the Roman army, inured to constant hardship after the loss of their glorious leader, were looking out (as they said), not for their safety, but for revenge, and would end the difficulties of their situation by either a decisive victory or a glorious death. 2 This news filled his mind with fear for many reasons: for he knew by experience that the troops scattered in great numbers through the provinces could easily be assembled by one little ticket,66 and he was aware that his own subjects, after the loss of so many men were in a state of extreme panic, and, besides, that in Mesopotamia a Roman army had been left which was not much smaller.67 3 More than all, it dulled his anxious mind that five hundred men together in one swim had crossed unharmed the swollen river, had slain his guards, and had roused their comrades who had remained behind to similar boldness.

4 Meanwhile our men, since the raging waters prevented bridges from being made, and everything edible had been used up, passed two days in wretchedness, deprived of everything useful; excited by hunger and wrath, they were in a state of frenzy and eager to lose their lives by the sword rather than by starvation, the most shameful kind of death.

5 However, the eternal power of God in heaven was on our side, and the Persians, beyond our hopes, took the first step and sent as envoys for  p533 securing peace the Surena and another magistrate, being themselves also low in their minds, which the fact that the Roman side was superior in almost every battle shook more and more every day. 6 Nevertheless, they offered conditions which were difficult and involved, for they pretended that from feelings of humanity the most merciful of kings would allow the remnants of the army to return, if the emperor and his most distinguished generals would comply with his demands. 7 In reply to this Arintheus68 was sent to him with the prefect Salutius, but, while a deliberate discussion was going on as to what ought to be determined, four days passed by, full of torments from hunger and worse than any death. 8 If the emperor, before letting these envoys go, had used this space of time to withdraw gradually from the enemy's territories, he could surely have reached the protection of Corduena,69 a rich region belonging to us, and distant only a hundred miles from the spot where all this took place.

9 Now the king obstinately demanded the lands which (he said) were his and had been taken from him long ago by Maximianus; but, in fact, as the negotiations showed, he required as our ransom five provinces on the far side of the Tigris: Arzanena,70a Moxoëna,70b and Zabdicena,71 as well as Rehimena72 and Corduena with fifteen fortresses, besides Nisibis,73 Singara74 and Castra Maurorum,75 a very important stronghold. 10 And whereas it would have been better to fight ten battles than give up any one of these, the band of flatterers pressed upon the timid  p535 emperor, harping upon the dreaded name of Procopius,76 and declaring that if he returned77 on learning of the death of Julianus, he would with the fresh troops under his command easily and without opposition make himself emperor. 11 Jovian, inflamed by these dangerous hints too continually repeated, without delay surrendered all that was asked, except that with difficulty he succeeded in bringing it about that Nisibis and Singara should pass into control of the Persians without their inhabitants, and that the Romans in the fortresses that were to be taken from us should be allowed to return to our protection. 12 To these conditions there was added another which was destructive and impious, namely, that after the completion of these agreements, Arsaces, our steadfast and faithful friend78 should never, if he asked it, be given help against the Persians. This was contrived with a double purpose, that a man who at the emperor's order79 had devastated Chiliocomum might be punished, and that the opportunity might be left of presently invading Armenia without opposition. The result was that later this same Arsaces was taken alive,80 and that the Parthians amid various dissensions and disturbances seized a great tract of Armenia bordering on Media, along with Artaxata.

13 When this treaty was concluded, lest anything contrary to the agreements should be done during the truce, distinguished men were given on both sides as hostages: from our side Nemota, Victor, and Bellovaedius,81 tribunes of famous corps,  p537 and from the opposite party Bineses, one of the distinguished magnates, and three satraps besides of no obscure name. 14 And so a peace of thirty years was made and consecrated by the sanctity of oaths; but we returned by other routes, and since the places near the river were avoided as rough and uneven, we suffered from lack of water and food.

8 1 The Romans, after crossing the river Tigris and suffering continued and great scarcity of food, which they endured with fortitude, at length arrive in Mesopotamia. Jovian Augustus sets in order, so far as possible, the affairs of Illyricum and Gaul.

1 But the peace which was granted under pretence of humanity caused the destruction of many, who, tormented by hunger up to their last breath, and so going ahead unnoticed by the army,82 were either, being unskilled in swimming, swallowed up in the depths of the river, or if they mastered the power of the stream and reached the opposite bank, were seized by the Saracens or Persians (who, as I said shortly before, had been routed by the Germans),83 and were either cut down like so many cattle, or led off farther inland to be sold. 2 But as soon as the trumpets' blast openly gave the signal for crossing the river, it was remarkable with what great eagerness and haste they rushed into all kinds of danger. Each man strove to outstrip all others and hastened to save himself from so many terrors; some used the hastily constructed rafts, holding to  p539 their horses as they swam here and there, others seated themselves on bladders, still others under the pressure of necessity found various other helps and rushed in an oblique direction into the waves of the onrushing waters. 3 The emperor himself with a few others crossed in small boats, which, as I have said, survived the burning of the fleet, and ordered the same craft to go back and forth, until we were all transported. At last all of us (except those who were drowned) reached the opposite bank, saved from danger by the favour of the supreme deity after many difficulties.

4 While the fear of impending disasters oppressed us, we learned from the report of our scouting cavalry, that the Persians, too far off to be seen, were making a bridge, in order that when all hostilities should cease after the conclusion of the treaty of peace, and our men were marching carelessly, they might attack the sick and the animals which had long been exhausted; but when they found that they were discovered, they gave up their wicked design. 5 Relieved now from this anxiety and hastening on by forced marched we approached Hatra, an old city lying in the midst of a desert and long since abandoned. The warlike emperors Trajan84 and Severus tried at various times to destroy it, but almost perished with their armies; I have related these acts also in telling of their careers. 6 Here we learned that on a plain extending for seventy miles through dry regions only water that was salt and ill-smelling could be found, and nothing to eat except southernwood, wormwood, dragonwort and other plants of  p541 the most wretched sort. Therefore the vessels which we carried with us were filled with fresh water, and by killing camels and other pack animals we provided ourselves with food, unwholesome85 though it was.

7 And after completing a march of six days and finding not even grass as the solace of their extreme necessity, Cassianus, the duke86a commanding the army in Mesopotamia,86b and the tribune Mauricius (who had been sent long before for that purpose) came to Persian stronghold called Ur87 and brought food from the supplies which the army left with Procopius and Sebastianus had saved by frugal living. 8 From here another Procopius, a state-secretary, and the military tribune Memoridus were sent to the lands of Illyricum and Gaul, to announce the death of Julianus, and the elevation of Jovian (after Julianus's decease) to Augustan rank. 9 To them the emperor had also given instructions to hand his father-in‑law Lucillianus,88 who after his dismissal from the army had retired to a life of leisure and was then living at Sirmium, the commission as commander of the cavalry and infantry which he had delivered to them, and urge him to hasten to Milan, in order to attend to any difficulties there, or if (as was now rather to be feared) any new dangers should arise, to resist them. 10 To these instructions the emperor had added a secret letter, in which he also directed Lucillianus to take with him some  p543 men selected for their tried vigour and loyalty, with the view of making use of their support as the condition of affairs might suggest. 11 And he took the prudent step of appointing Malarichus, who also was even then living in Italy in a private capacity, as successor to Jovinus, commander of the cavalry in Gaul, sending him the insignia of that rank. Thereby he aimed at a double advantage: first, in getting rid of a general of distinguished service and therefore an object of suspicion; and, second, the hope that a man of slight expectations, when raised to a high rank, might show great zeal in supporting the position of his benefactor, which was still uncertain. 12 Also the men who were commissioned to carry out these plans were ordered to set the course of events in a favourable light, and wherever they went, to agree with each other in spreading the report that the Parthian campaign had been brought to a successful end. They were to hasten their journey by adding night to day, to put into the hands of the governors and the military commanders of the provinces the messages of the new emperor, to secretly sound the sentiments of all of them, and to return speedily with their replies, in order that as soon as it was learned how matters stood in the distant provinces, timely and careful plans might be made for safeguarding the imperial power.

13 Meanwhile rumour, the swiftest messenger of sad events, outstripping these messengers, flew through provinces and nations, and most of all struck the people of Nisibis with bitter grief; when they learned that their city had been surrendered to  p545 Sapor, whose anger and hostility they feared, recalling as they did what constant losses he had suffered in his frequent attempts to take their city. 14 For it was clear that the entire Orient might have passed into the control of Persia, had not this city with its advantageous situation and mighty walls resisted him. Nevertheless, however much the unhappy people were tormented with great fear of the future, yet they could sustain themselves with one slight hope, namely, that the emperor would, of his own accord or prevailed upon by their entreaties, keep the city in its present condition, as the strongest bulwark of the Orient.

15 While varied rumours were spreading the news of the course of events everywhere, in the army, since the few provisions which (as I have said) we had brought with us were used up, we should have been forced to resort to human bodies, had not the flesh of the slain pack-animals held out for a time; but the result was, that many arms and packs were thrown away; for we were so wasted by fearful hunger, that if anywhere a modius89 of flour was found (which seldom happened) it was sold for ten gold-pieces,90 and that was considered a cheap price.

16 Setting out from there, we came to Thilsaphata, where Sebastianus and Procopius, with the tribunes and officers of the soldiers which had been entrusted to them for the defence of Mesopotamia, came out to meet us as formal usage required. And after having been courteously received, they joined our march. 17 After this we went on more speedily, and looking eagerly at Nisibis, the emperor made a permanent camp outside of the city; but in spite of  p547 the earnest request of many of the populace to enter and take up his residence in the palace as was usual with the emperors, he obstinately refused, from shame that during his own stay within its walls the impregnable city should be handed over to the enemy. 18 There, as the darkness of evening was then approaching, Jovianus, chief among all the secretaries, who (as I have already said)91 at the siege of the city of Maiozamalcha had with others been first to come out through the mine, was taken from the dining-table, led to a secluded spot, thrown headlong into a dry well, and crushed by a great number of stones that were thrown upon him. The reason for this was undoubtedly that, after Julianus's death, he too was named by a few as worthy of the throne, and that after the election of Jovian he had not acted with moderation, but was overheard whispering this and that about some business, and from time to time had even invited military officers to his table.

9 1 Bineses, a noble Persian, receives the impregnable city of Nisibis from Jovian. The citizens were compelled against their will to leave the city and move to Amida. The five provinces, with the city of Singara and sixteen strongholds, in accordance with the treaty were handed over to Persian grandees.

1 On the following day Bineses, one of the Persians, who (as I have said) was eminent beyond all others,92 hastening to fulfil the orders of his king,  p549 urgently demanded what had been promised. Therefore, with the permission of the Roman emperor, he entered the city and raised the flag of his nation on the top of the citadel, announcing to the citizens their sorrowful departure from their native place. 2 And when all were commanded to leave their homes at once, with tears and outstretched hands they begged that they might not be compelled to depart, declaring that they alone, without aid from the empire in provisions and men, were able to defend their hearths, trusting that Justice herself would, as they had often found, aid them in fighting for their ancestral dwelling-place. But suppliantly as the council and people entreated, all was spoken vainly to the winds, since the emperor (as he pretended, while moved by other fears) did not wish to incur the guilt of perjury. 3 Thereupon Sabinus, distinguished among his fellow-citizens for his wealth and high birth, declared in impassioned language that Constantius once, when the flames of a cruel war were raging, had been defeated by the Persians and finally had been driven in flight with a few followers to the unprotected post of Hibita, where he was obliged to live on a bit of bread which he begged from an old peasant woman; yet up to his last day he had lost nothing, whereas Jovian at the beginning of his principate, had abandoned the defences of provinces whose bulwarks had remained unshaken from the earliest times. 4 But when nothing came of this, since the emperor the more stoutly maintained the sanctity of his oath; and when for a time he had refused the crown93 that was offered him but was finally forced to accept it, one Silvanus, a pleader  p551 at the bar, was bold enough to say: "Thus may you be crowned, O emperor, by the rest of the cities." Exasperated by these words, the emperor gave orders that all must leave the walls within three days, they the while expressing horror at such a condition of affairs.

5 Accordingly, men were appointed to drive them out, and threatened with death all who hesitated to leave. Lamentation and grief filled the city, and in all its parts no sound save universal wailing was to be heard; the matrons tore their hair, since they were to be sent into exile from the homes in which they were born and reared; mothers who had lost their children, and widows bereft of their husbands, mourned that they were driven far from the ashes of the loved ones; and the weeping throng embraced the doors or the thresholds of their homes. 6 Then the various roads were filled with people going wherever each could find refuge. In their haste many secretly carried off such of their own property as they thought they could take with them, disregarding the rest of their possessions, which though many and valuable, they were obliged to leave behind for lack of pack-animals.94

7 You are here justly censured, O Fortune of the Roman world! that, when storms shattered our country, you did snatch the helm from the hands of an experienced steersman and entrust it to an untried95 youth, who, since he was known during his previous life for no brilliant deeds in that field, cannot be justly either blamed or praised. 8 But what grieved the very heart of every patriotic citizen was this, that fearful of a rival to his power and  p553 bearing in mind that it was in Gaul and Illyricum that many men had taken the first steps to loftier power, in his haste to outstrip the report of his coming, under pretext of avoiding perjury he committed an act unworthy of an emperor, betraying Nisibis, which ever since the time of King Mithridates' reign had resisted with all its might the occupation of the Orient by the Persians.96 9 For never (I think) since the founding of our city can it be found by a reader of history that any part of our territory has been yielded to an enemy by an emperor or a consul; but that not even the recovery of anything that had been lost was ever enough for the honour of a triumph, but only the increase of our dominions. 10 Hence it was that triumphs were refused97 to Publius Scipio for the recovery of Spain; to Fulvius, when Capua was overcome after long contests, and to Opimius, when, after shifting fortunes of war, the people of Fregellae, at that time our deadly enemies, were forced to surrender. 11 In fact, the ancient records teach us that treaties made in extreme necessity with shameful conditions, even when both parties had taken oath in set terms, were at once annulled by a renewal of war. For example, when in days of old our legions were sent under the yokea at the Caudine Forks in Samnium;98 when Albinus in Numidia devised a shameful peace;99 and when Mancinus, the author of a disgracefully hasty treaty, was surrendered to the people of Numantia.100

12 So then, after the inhabitants had been withdrawn, and the city had been handed over, the tribune  p555 Constantius was sent to deliver the strongholds, with the surrounding country, to the Persian grandees. Then Procopius was sent with the remains of Julianus, in order to inter him, as he had directed when still alive,101 in the suburb of Tarsus. 13 Procopius set out to fulfil his mission,102 but immediately after burying the body he disappeared and in spite of the most careful search could not be found anywhere,103 unless afterwards he suddenly appeared at Constantinople, clad in the purple.

10 1 Jovian, fearful of an uprising, quickly marched through Syria, Cilicia, Cappadocia and Galatia. At Ancyra he assumed the consulship with his infant son Varronianus, and shortly afterwards died suddenly at Dadastana.

1 After this business had been thus attended to, we came by long marches to Antioch; where for successive days, as though the divinity were angered, many fearful portents were seen, which those skilled in such signs declared would have sad results. 2 For the statue of the Caesar Maximianus, which stood in the vestibule of the royal palace, suddenly dropped the brazen ball, in the form of the globe of heaven, which it was holding,104 the beams of the council hall gave forth an awful creaking, and in broad daylight comets were seen, about which the views of those versed in natural history are at variance.105 3 For some think that they are so called because they are numerous stars united in one body,106  p557 and send out writhing fires resembling hair.107 Others believe that they take fire from the dryer exhalations of the earth, which gradually rise higher. Others again think that the rays streaming from the sun are prevented by the interposition of a heavier cloud from going downward, and when the brightness is suffused through the thick substance, it presents to men's eyes a kind of star-spangled light. Yet others have formed the opinion that this phenomenon occurs when an unusually high cloud is lit up by the nearness of the eternal fires, or at any rate, that comets are stars like the rest, the appointed times of whose rising and setting108 are not understood by human minds. Many other theories about comets are to be found in the writings of those who are skilled in knowledge of the universe; but from discussing these I am prevented by my haste to continue my narrative.

4 The emperor lingered for a time at Antioch, bowed down by the weight of divers cares, but pursued by an extraordinary desire for getting out of the place. Accordingly, he left there on a day in the dead of winter, sparing neither horse nor man, although many signs (as has been said) forbade, and entered Tarsus, the famous city of Cilicia, of whose origin I have already spoken.109 5 Though in excessive haste to leave that place, he determined to adorn the tomb of Julianus,110 situated just outside the walls on the road which leads to the passes of Mount Taurus. But his remains and ashes, if anyone then  p559 showed sound judgement, ought not to be looked on by the Cydnus,111 although it is a beautiful and clear stream, but to perpetuate the glory of his noble deeds they should be laved by the Tiber, which cuts through the eternal city and flows by the memorials of the deified emperors of old.

6 After this the emperor left Tarsus, and making long marches arrived at Tyana, a town of Cappadocia, where on their return the secretary Procopius and the tribune Memoridus112 met him. They gave him an account of their missions, beginning (as order demanded) with the entry of Lucillianus with the tribunes Seniauchus and Valentinianus, whom he had taken with him, into Mediolanum; but on learning that Malarichus had refused to accept the position113 he had gone at full speed to Rheims. 7 Then, as if that nation were in profound peace, he ran off the track (as the saying is), and quite out of season, since everything was not yet secure, devoted his attention to examining the accounts of a former actuary. This man, being conscious of deceit and wrong-doing, fled for refuge to the army and falsely asserted that Julianus was still alive and that a man of no distinction had raised a rebellion; in consequence of his falsehoods a veritable storm broke out among the soldiery, and Lucillianus and Seniauchus were killed. For Valentinianus, who was shortly afterwards emperor, in terror and not knowing where to turn, was safely gotten out of the way by Primitivus, his guest-friend. 8 This sad news was followed by another message, this time a happy one, namely, that soldiers sent by Jovinus,º  p561 heads of the divisions,114 as camp parlance termed them, were on the way, reporting that the Gallic army embraced with favour the rule of Jovian.

9 On receipt of this news Valentinian, who had returned with the others, was entrusted with the command of the second division of the targeteers, and Vitalianus, formerly a soldier in the division of the Eruli, was made a member of the household troops; long afterwards he was raised to the rank of Count, but suffered a defeat in Illyricum. Arintheus was hastily sent to Gaul, bearing letters to Jovinus, urging him to act firmly in holding his position; he was also bidden to punish the originator of the disturbance and to send the ringleaders in the rebellion in fetters to the court. 10 After these arrangements had been made as seemed expedient, the officers of the Gallic troops had audience with the emperor at Aspuna, a small town in Galatia; when they entered the council chamber, the news which they brought was heard with pleasure, and after receiving rewards, they were ordered to return to their posts.

11 When the emperor had entered Ancyra, after the necessary arrangements for his procession had been made, so far as the conditions allowed, he assumed the consulship, taking as his colleague in the office his son Varronianus, who was still a small child;115 and his crying and obstinate resistance to being carried, as usual, on the curule chair, were an omen of what presently occurred.

 p563  12 From here also the destined day for ending his life drove Jovian swiftly on. For when he had come to Dadastana, which forms the boundary between Bithynia and Galatia, he was found dead that night. As to his taking-off, many doubtful points have come up. 13 For it is said that he was unable to endure the unwholesome odour of a recently plastered bedroom, or that his head was swollen from the burning of a great amount of charcoal and so he died, or at any rate that he had a fit of acute indigestion from an immoderate amount of food of different kinds.116 At all events he died in the thirty-third year of his age.117 The end of his life was like that of Scipio Aemilianus,118 but so far as I know no investigation was made of the death of either.

14 He walked with a dignified bearing; his expression was very cheerful. His eyes were gray. He was so unusually tall that for some time no imperial robe could be found that was long enough for him. He took as his model Constantius, often spending the afternoon in some serious occupation, but accustomed to jest in public with his intimates. 15 So too he was devoted to the Christian doctrine and sometimes paid it honour.119 He was only moderately educated, of a kindly nature, and (as appears from the few promotions that he made) inclined to select state officials with care. But he was an immoderate eater, given to wine and women, faults which perhaps he would have corrected out of regard for  p565 the imperial dignity. 16 It was said that his father, Varronianus, learned what would happen long beforehand from the suggestion of a dream, and trusted the information to two of his confidential friends, adding the remark that the consular robe120 would be conferred also on himself. But although one prophecy was fulfilled, he could not attain the other prediction. For after learning of the elevation of his son, he was overtaken by death before seeing him again. 17 And since it was foretold to the old man in a dream that the highest magistracy awaited one of that name, his grandson Varronianus, then still a child, was (as I have before related) made consul together with his father Jovianus.

The Loeb Editor's Notes:

1 The Persian boys from the age of five were taught to ride, to use the bow, and to speak the truth (Hdt. I.136).

2 Livy, XXVII.49.1 ff.

3 By reaching the enemy before they could use their bows at all (ante iactum sagittarum (Justin, l.c.)), or with good effect. Cf. Frontinus, Strat. II.2.5, Ventidius . . . ita procursione subita . . . se admovit, ut sagittas, quibus ex longinquo usus est, comminus adplicitus eluderet. Similar tactics were used by Miltiades at Marathon; Hdt. VI.112; Just. II.9.11.

4 Zosimus, III.28, calls him Brettanio. The Zianni were probably a Thracian tribe; see Index II.

5 Contrasted with the beneficiarius, who had special privileges; see Veget. II.7.

6 Cf. XX.5.10.

7 Cf. XXIV.6.17.

8 ἀστὴρ διαΐσσων, "a shooting star"; cf. Iliad, IV.75‑77.

9 I.e. not versed in astronomy.

10 Cf. Seneca, Nat. Quaest. II.14.

11 So‑called from their author Tarquitius, whom some identify with Tages; cf. XVII.10.2; XXI.1.10.

12 I.e. when it opposed his plans. As Montaigne (Book II, ch. 19) rightly says, "he was besotted with the art of divination"; cf. XXII.1.1; XXIII.3.3; XXV.4.17.

13 Arma cogentiumagmen cogentium, with armaarmatos, as often in Ammianus. Cf. XVI.2.10, where arma cogentes probably has the same meaning as arma cogentium in this passage.

14 Zonaras (XIII.13B) says that he had taken it off because of its weight and the excessive heat.

15 See Index II, vol. I, s.v. candidati; cf. XV.5.16.

16 Libanius said that he was killed by some Christian in his own army, but some other writers agree with Ammianus.

17 Val. Max. III.2, ext. 5; Just. VI.11.8; cf. Nepos, Epam. 9.3.

18 He had been told in a dream that he would die in Phrygia; see Zonaras, XIII.13A.

19 And so released from discipline.

20 Cf. 1.11, above.

21 Cf. XVIII.6.16.

22 Pliny, N. H. VII.92, and Solinus, 1.107, speak of thirty-nine.

23 Val. Max. III.2.24; Gell. II.11.2; etc.

24 Cf. Pliny and Solin., l.c.

25 This sentence comes in abruptly: Büchele seems to refer it to what precedes.

26 Cf. XXV.6.11.

27 Probably referring to Cleobis and Biton and Agamedes and Trophonius; Cic. T. D. I.47; 113 f.

28 Cf. XXII.7.3.

29 After the example of Socrates and others; of Thrasea, cf. Tac. Ann. XVI.34.

30 Constantine left the rule to his three sons, but Constantius had all his relatives slain, except Gallus and Julianus, who were then children.

31 She was a daughter of the praetorian prefect Julianus, and died a few years after the birth of her only child.

32 Cicero, De Off. I.5.15.

33 Cf. XXI.1.5.

34 Rep. I.329B‑C; cf. Cic. De Senec. 14.47.

35 Cf. XXIV.4.4.

36 Cf. Suet. Jul. 62.

37 Under the authority of Constantius; see Introd., p. xxiv.

38 The coronarium was the money presented to the emperor personally by the provinces on his ascension to the throne, which was often a great amount. Avaricious rulers claimed it on other occasions, such as victories over the barbarians, and the like. Augustus, Hadrian, Antoninus Pius, and Alexander Severus had not exacted it.

Thayer's Note: for further details and sources, see the article Aurum Coronarium in Smith's Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities.

39 On taxes, cf. XVI.5.14.

40 The pretorian prefects, etc. Also, Constantine, Constantius, and Valentinian sold or gave away lands belonging to the temples.

41 Marcus Aurelius.

42 Cf. XXII.10.6.

43 Cf. XXII.10.7.

44 It must be remembered that such offices were a burden which many sought to avoid; cf. XXII.9.12.

45 Metrodorus, a philosopher, in the time of Constantine the Great, is said to have made his way to farthest India with the intention of going around the world. Winning the favour of the Brachmanae and both admitted to their shrines, he stole many pearls and other gems. The king of the Indi also gave him many jewels of great price, which he was to offer to Constantine in the name of the king. When Metrodorus returned to Byzantium, he presented these to Constantine as his own gift, and said that he had sent many more to him by the land route, but that they had all been seized by the Persians. When Constantine demanded their return from Sapor, he received no reply, and thus the peace between the Romans and the Persians was broken. This story is told by Georgius Cedrenus in his Chron. anno XXI Constantini (p. 295A f.), but it is regarded as apocryphal.

46 In a lost book.

47 I.e. although he had the title, he was subject to surveillance, was kept short of funds, and was hampered in many ways.

48 Cf. Sen., De Benef. I.1.10; adeoque adversus experimenta pertinaces sumus, ut bella victi et naufragi maria repetamus.

49 At Tarsus; see XXIII.2.5; and 10.5, below.

50 Gibbon thinks this was Ammianus himself.

51 The eastern and the western army.

52 According to Hieronymus' Chron. he was primicerius, ranking after the comes and the tribunus. Cf. XXVII.10.16, domesticorum omnium primus.

53 As the context shows, he was a general; see vol. I, Introd., p. xxix, and § 8, below.

54 Namely v for l. The sound of Iu and Io is so similar that Ammianus disregards it.

55 Legions so named by Diocletian, who was called Jovius.

56 The Church Fathers call Jovian a Christian. Gibbon, because of this passage, thinks not; but the sacrifice may not have been made by Jovian's order.

57 Legions named from the colleague of Diocletian, called Herculius.

58 Cf. 3.14, above.

59 See note 3, p523.º

60 See 3.6, above, and note.

61 Cf. XVIII.10.1.

62 On the far side of the Tigris; different from the city of the same name in Mesopotamia (XXIII.5.8; XXIV.1.5), where excavations have lately been made.

63 To buy peace from them and prevent their raids.

64 Cf. XX.11.22, note.º Here the meaning is "with one accord," "all at once." Wagner took transenna of the rope stretched before contestants in a footrace, which was dropped at a given signal, so that the runners started all together; others, of a bowstring.

65 Cf. XXIV.3.11, note.

66 The watchword, and orders of various kinds, were written on small square tablets, called tesserae; cf. XIV.2.15; Suet. Galba, 6.2; etc.

Thayer's Note: for fuller details, see Smith's Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities, the article Tessera and the section of the article Castra linked there.

67 I.e. than the one which had invaded Persia.

68 Cf. XXIV.1.2.

69 Cf. XVIII.6.20; the distance was fourteen geographic, or nautical, miles.

70a 70b In Armenia.

71 In Mesopotamia.

72 Unknown.

Thayer's Note: but see this passage of J. B. Bury, History of the Later Roman Empire, Chapter 4, and note 10 there.

73 A strong city thrice vainly besieged by the Persians.

74 Cf. XVIII.5.7; XX.6.

75 XVIII.6.9.

76 Julianus had named Procopius as his successor; see XXIII.3.2.

77 He was in hiding, probably at Chalcedon; cf. XXVI.6.3‑5.

78 Cf. note to XXIV.7.8.

79 Cf. XXIII.3.5.

80 Cf. XXVII.12.3.

81 The names are evidently corrupted and there should be four Roman hostages; see crit. note.

82 Since hunger drove them to try to cross before the rest.

83 Cf. 6.14, above.

84 Dio, LXVIII.31.2.

85 Büchele thinks the text means "which eventually cost us dear," since they lost the use of these animals.

Thayer's Note: seconded, for what it's worth, by yours truly; noxiusharmful. "though it harmed us" might have been a more ambiguous and better translation.

86a 86b Duces were usually military commanders, but sometimes governors; see Index II, vol. I s.v.

87 Ur of the Chaldeans, mentioned also in the books of Moses.

88 Jovian's wife was a daughter of Lucillianus; her name was Charito.

89 Not more than twenty-five pounds.

90 About ten pounds or fifty dollars.

Thayer's Note: That note was written in 1940 (note the pound at five dollars). In 2007, the amount would be about $700.

91 XXIV.4.23.

92 Cf. 7.13, above.

93 See note on coronarium, 4.15, above.

94 Cf. Virg., Aen. II.490; Val. Flacc. IV.373. The whole passage suggests Livy's account of the destruction of Alba Longa (I.29).

95 consummandoinconsummato "unfinished."

96 See Dio, XXXVI.6.1 ff.

97 Cf.  Val. Max. II.8.4 and 5.

98 Cf. Liv. IX.6.1; Florus, I.XI.9 f.

99 See Sallust, Jug. 38.

100 See XIV.11.32; Florus, I.34.4 ff.

101 Cf. XXIII.2.5.

102 Or perhaps, on the analogy of exsequiae, "on his mournful errand," or "for the funeral."

103 He perhaps wished to escape the fate of Jovianus; see 8.18.

104 Cf. XXI.14.1, note.

105 Cf. Pliny, N. H. II.91 ff.

106 Democritus and Anaxagoras, cf. Arist., Meteor. 1.1; opposed by Sen., Nat. Quaest. VII.7.

107 The view of Aristotle and the Peripatetics; cometa is from coma (Greek κόμη), "hair." This opinion, which is nearest the truth, is attributed by Aristotle and Plutarch to Pythagoras.

108 I.e. their appearance and disappearance.

109 Cf. XIV.8.3.

110 See 9.12, above. According to Zonaras and others, Julianus's body was later taken to Constantinople.

111 Cf. Curt. III.4.8.

112 They had been sent to Illyricum and Gaul; see 8.8, above.

113 Of general of the cavalry; see 8.11, above.

114 There were many military scholae (see Index II, vol. I, s.v., and cf. XIV.7.9); capita is a general term for the various officers commanding them; cf. capita contubernii, Veget. II.8 and 13.

115 Previous emperors had had their sons or Caesars declared by the Senate to be of sufficient age for office. This is the first instance of the choice of a minor.

116 Sozomenus, VI.6, Orosius, VII.31. Zonaras, XIII.14, DA, gives the coal gas as the cause. The latter adds that he had drunk to excess and (as some said) was given a poisoned sponge; Chrysostom, HomiliaXV, says directly that he was poisoned. Ammianus, by his reference to Aemilianus, seems to imply that he was strangled; cf. Cic., Pro Milone, 7.16; Ad Fam. IX.21.3.

117 Having reigned 8 months.

118 Livy, Epit. LIX; Val. Max. IV.1.12.3; VIII.15.4.

119 At Antioch he annulled Julianus's edicts against Christianity.

120 The trabea was a white toga, with horizontal stripes of purple. It was worn by the early Roman kings and by the consuls on ceremonial occasions. The usual dress of the consul was the toga praetexta.

Thayer's Note:

a For "passing under the yoke", see the article Jugum in Smith's Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities.

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